Bilingual teachers needed

In its third year, Portland State University’s Bilingual Teacher Pathway (BTP) program is trying to fulfill the need for bilingual and bicultural teachers in a region rapidly expanding into a diverse urban area.

The BTP program is a teacher preparation program designed to fill critical shortages of bilingual education/ESL (English as Second Language) teachers in the Portland/Vancouver area. The program recruits and supports bilingual and bicultural educational assistants and secondary students so they can become licensed teachers.

The program also allows students to work towards their teaching license and stay employed by the school district. The goal is to give students the opportunity to follow an academic plan on a part-time basis.

The BTP is funded through a five-year Title Seven grant from the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs. The grant, which expires in August 2003, has helped the program train bilingual teachers in the Portland School District.

With over 50 languages currently represented in the schools many bilingual students’ academic potentials are left undeveloped because of the lack of bilingual classes, stated a press release from the BTP program.

The most commonly spoken languages are Spanish, Russian and Vietnamese.”There is a tremendous need [for teachers] out there,” said Jack Taylor, program leader in the Graduate School of Education. Teachers are needed in math, science and social studies, not just ESL, Taylor explained.

Along with Taylor are two other staff members and four graduate assistants: Julie Esparza Brown, program director, and Ayde Manzano de York, advisor/office supervisor.

There are just under 160 students enrolled in PSU’s BTP program, making it the largest in Oregon.

“Portland State is the leader in this,” Taylor said of the program’s large enrollment. “We are producing many quality teachers out there.”

The BTP also has one student who is a principal, Brown said.

There are three pathways upon which students can embark, depending on how much college education they have.

Pathway one is for those who need to start at a community college and transfer to PSU after completing 90 credit hours. Pathway two is designed for those who have completed the required course work, either at a community college or university, and have junior status.

Students are then encouraged to take the PSU Degree Completion Program, which allows you to take courses from four different sites: Capital Center, Salem Center, Downtown Portland campus and Clackamas Metro Center. Pathway three is for those students who have obtained their bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate. Those students will start at the Graduate School of Education.

To enter into the BTP, the student must be employed by one of 19 districts in the Portland Metro Area and have a cumulative G.P.A. of at least 2.70. After contacting a school district liaison and attending a BTP advising session, they can submit an application, two letters of recommendation and a resume, followed by an interview with a panel of BTP and Portland State faculty.

For more information contact the BTP at (503) 725-4704.